Thursday, August 11, 2011

Andres Iniesta

Andrés Iniesta Luján (Spanish pronunciation: born 11 May 1984) is a Spanish football player. He currently plays as a midfielder for La Liga club FC Barcelona, and the Spanish national team.Iniesta came through La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, and impressed from an early age. He made his first-team debut in 2002, aged 18. He began playing regularly during the 2004–05 season, and has remained in the side ever since. He was an integral part of the sextuple-winning Barcelona side in 2009, the only time which a club has achieved six titles in a year.Iniesta played for Spain at Under-16, Under-19 and Under-21 levels, before making his international debut in 2006. He was selected for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, playing one game, as Spain went out in the second round. He helped Spain qualify for Euro 2008, and played an important role in the side as they went on to win the competition, playing every game and being selected in the UEFA Team of the Tournament. Iniesta was selected for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and was a key member of the victorious Spanish side; he scored the winning goal in the final against the Netherlands, also being named Man of the Match, and was selected in the tournament's All-Star Team. He was also the Man of the Match for two other World Cup games.Iniesta comes from a small village named Fuentealbilla in the province of Albacete, Castile-La Mancha. At the age of 12, while playing for Albacete in a junior seven-a-side tournament in Brunete, he attracted the attention of scouts from many clubs around Spain.His parents knew the FC Barcelona youth team coach, Enrique Orizaola, and he persuaded them to consider sending Iniesta to the Barcelona youth academy. Iniesta travelled there with his parents and visited La Masia, the Spanish farmhouse where the team house their young players; the trip convinced them to enroll Iniesta in the Barcelona youth ranks.Iniesta says he "cried rivers" the day he left for La Masia and struggled being separated from his parents;he was very shy and kept to himself while there
He captained the Barcelona Under-15 team to victory in the Nike Premier Cup of 1999, scoring the winning goal in the last minute of the final, and being named player of the tournament. The trophy was presented by one of Iniesta's idols: the then first-team captain Josep Guardiola, whose poster hung above Iniesta's bed.Guardiola gave Iniesta a signed photograph dedicated to "the best player I've ever seen" and it was around this time that he reportedly said to Barcelona midfielder and then-rising star Xavi that, "You will retire me, but Iniesta will retire us both." As a manager, Guardiola would make Xavi and Iniesta the heart of his treble-winning Barcelona side of 2009, a decade after his famous prediction.Iniesta rose through the club's youth teams and, by the age of 16, was already the key player for FC Barcelona B. Barcelona manager Louis van Gaal handed Iniesta his senior first-team debut in October 2002, in a UEFA Champions League group game against Standard Liège.He appeared ten times in the 2003–04 league, starting in five of the games and scoring once as Barcelona finished second behind Valencia CF.In the 2004–05 season Iniesta featured in 37 out of 38 league games—more than any other player—although 25 of these were substitute appearances. He scored twice as Barcelona won La Liga.An injury to fellow midfielder Xavi at the start of the 2005–06 season allowed Iniesta more regular starts in the centre of midfield, and he continued to improve and developHe played in 11 Champions League games, including a half-time appearance in the 2006 final to replace the injured Edmilson.His contribution to the team was praised by manager Frank Rijkaard as Barcelona won a league and Champions League double.
The 2006–07 season saw Iniesta's profile continue to rise and earned plaudits for his willingness to play in any position for his team. On 22 August 2006, Iniesta lifted the Joan Gamper Trophy as the captain of the team after defeating German side Bayern Munich 4–0. He played for the first time as a left wing-forward for Barcelona in two Champions League matches against Levski Sofia, finding the net twice. In the first knock out stage of the same competition, he played at central midfield against Liverpool. Despite being moved around the pitch by manager Rijkaard, the 2006–07 season remains Iniesta's highest scoring thus far.

Andrès Iniesta - 2009/2010 - Skills (1080p HD) By Sjurinho
With the departure of Ludovic Giuly over the summer break, Iniesta was able to switch his number 24 shirt for his preferred number 8. On 19 July 2007, the Spanish newspaper Marca linked Iniesta with a move to rivals Real Madrid, who were willing to pay his €60 million release clause. Iniesta responded the same day to deny the rumours, saying: "I’ve been told about that and I’m very surprised. I can’t do anything about it but I’d like to insist once again that I want to stay here. When I say I want to retire in Barça, I say it with all my heart. And my wishes are above everything else." On 25 January 2008, Iniesta extended his contract to 2014,with his buy-out clause being raised to €150 million.
According to the Spanish football magazine Don Balón, a member of European Sports Magazines, Iniesta has been one of the most consistent performers in the last two seasons of Primera Division, placing fifth in 2006–07, and fourth in 2007–08 on their annual rating system Ranking Don Balón. He also placed 9th in the 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year voting, gaining 37 total points.Barcelona team-mates Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o and Xavi also featured in the top ten.
In September 2008, after the departure of former vice-captain Ronaldinho to A.C. Milan, the Barcelona squad decided on its new team captains. Iniesta was named fourth-choice behind, in order of preference, Carles Puyol, Xavi and Víctor Valdés; all four were products of the Barcelona youth system. In mid-November 2008, Iniesta suffered a leg injury and was expected to return to action in six weeks. Iniesta, however, did not want to come back until he was 100 percent and finally returned to action on 3 January 2009 as a 65th minute substitute against Mallorca. After only 10 minutes he scored a crucial goal and completed a Barcelona comeback in front of the Camp Nou.His performances in the 2008–09 season have been highly lauded, receiving standing ovations both in Barcelona at the Camp Nou, as well as from rival supporters in away matches.
On 5 February, Iniesta made his 250th appearance for Barcelona in the Copa del Rey match against Mallorca. Iniesta once again got injured in Barcelona's home match against Málaga, but returned to action for the first leg Champions League quarter-final clash against Bayern Munich, which Barcelona won 4–0.

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